Monday, July 28, 2014

Fair Warning

Friday was a brutal day.  After dropping Kai off at camp, Eric and I headed to Oakland (with Alden in tow, of course) to get the last remaining things from our house and do other errands.  We rented an SUV so that we'd have enough space for all of our crap.  It took forever just to get on the road because we had to pick up the SUV and then find a place to park our car (all the spaces at Eric's work were taken, which had been our initial plan), and transfer the carseat into the SUV.  We finally hit the road just before 10 AM, and just as Alden was wrapping up his morning nap.  Awesome. 

So, Alden screamed for the first 2/3 of the drive before finally conking out again for the last little bit as we pulled into Oakland.  We got his birth certificate first -- yea! He's official!  Then we headed to the house to get our stuff.   There was quite a bit still there, so it took awhile and we packed the car full.  Then we headed to a meeting with our loan officer to talk financing for our house purchase. 

Alden held it together for all of these meetings -- he does fine as long as he's not in the carseat. He's happy to just sit through a meeting smiling at the people we're talking to -- although, it's very distracting for the person we are meeting with.  They can't help but break out in goofy smiles back at Alden.  Then they start talking to him and lose the thread of the conversation.  It's very funny.  Happens all the time.  Alden interrupts conversations through charm alone!

We left our meeting with the loan officer at about 3:45.  Kai needed to be picked up from camp at 6 and the car needed to be returned by 6.  We thought we had plenty of time -- especially since the meeting was already a bit of the way towards Sacramento (we had about an hour to go, without traffic).  Without traffic is the key part of that parenthetical.  We encountered no fewer than FOUR accidents on the way home.  All spaced just enough apart to really @#$ with us.  It took nearly 3 hours to get to Kai's camp.  We, of course, called on the way there when we realized how late we were going to be -- but, it really doesn't diminish the stress of getting there as quickly as possible. 

Alden held it together for an amazing stretch during the three hours, but he did completely lose it the last 45 minutes.  Screaming baby while watching a ticking clock, with each minute marking another minute late picking up your six year old from camp.... it was awful. 

After finally getting Kai, we still had to shuttle the cars around.  First, we needed to get all the crap we took from the Oakland house into the Natomas house.  Then we had to shuttle back to the location to return the car (we had, of course, extended the reservation by this time) and then get back home again. 

By the time we got everything unloaded and the car returned, it was 7:30 PM.  Alden's bedtime.  Way past dinner time.  Everyone was hot (it was, of course, 101 outside), tired, hungry and cranky.  We went to a pizza place downtown and got settled into our seats right away (that is one thing that is SO much better about Sacramento -- there is always parking and almost never any wait time at restaurants).  We ordered right away and they brought us water and the salad we asked for within moments. 

Kai took one look at the salad and said, "where's the pizza?"  We told her it was coming.  She sighed a big sigh and then said, "this is where I start whining."  Well, at least she warned us!

Besides, I totally agreed. A good whine was what we all needed right about then.  Alden concurred by spitting up an enormous amount of milk all over Eric's shirt and the floor.  It was an annoying end to an annoying day.

The only good part about Friday was that it finally ended. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Life of a Working Mom Without Childcare


Midnight – fed Alden

4 AM – fed Alden

6:50 AM – everyone is awake.  Kai comes into our room and crawls into bed for snuggles.  Alden is happy and smiling.

7:35 AM – Angie showers

7:50 AM – Feed Alden

8:05 AM – Feed Kai breakfast

8:45 AM – Kai and Eric leave for the day

9:10 AM – Alden goes for nap (managed to get him to fall asleep on the floor, so I can actually work!)

9:15 AM – Pumping (5 oz)

9:25 AM – Angie works!!

9:35 AM – Not so fast.  Alden rousts.  Angie spends 15 minutes trying to get him back to sleep on the floor

9:45 AM – fuck it!  Picks Alden up and lets him fall back asleep on me in the rocking chair – grab computer and phone first so I can actually get stuff done.

10:09 AM – Alden is back asleep (on Angie’s chest) – but I have my computer so it’s back to work!   Makes zipcar reservation and posts jobs for a nanny beginning in September.  Does not get to reviewing the FAQ for work.  Sigh.

11:10 AM – Alden wakes up.  Wants to eat.  Gets a diaper change and Angie gathers things for the gym while holding a crying Alden.

11:26 AM – Feeds Alden while continuing to try to work, but instead of working research cribs.

11:55 AM – Alden is done eating.  Grab gym bag, diaper bag and baby and head out the door. 

12:05 PM – Lunch with Alden (I eat, he watches)

12:30 PM – Back in the car headed for the gym

12:45 PM – Drop Alden off at gym day care and go work out

1:45 PM – Pick Alden up from gym day care.  They tell me he is so fun to watch and that he tried four times to pull his sticker off his shirt.   At first they thought it was an accident, because he’s only 4 months. But he kept doing it so they knew he was really trying to get it off.  Too funny.

1:50 PM – leave gym.  Alden falls asleep in car home

2:05 PM – pumping (4.5 oz) and update blog while pumping

2:16 PM – back to work while Alden naps

2:45 PM – Alden wakes up.  Change diaper.  He’s in a good mood, so put him on his play mat while I try to do more work. 

2:55 PM – Alden decides it is crap playing by himself and demands to be entertained.  He and I play together for a bit. 

3:10 PM – Alden realizes that it has been nearly 3.5 hours since he last ate and, despite how fun it is playing on mommy’s knees, stops the game and howls to be fed.  Angie nurses and returns to work at the same time.

3:25 PM – Alden finishes eating but is disgruntled, probably because supply is down since I pumped twice.  He grudgingly accepts a pacifier and rocking while I continue to try to write with one hand. 

3:33 PM – Alden decides to try nursing again.  We go back and forth between nursing and the pacifier.  He falls asleep at 3:44 PM, frustrated. 

3:45 PM – back to this @#$ document that I am never going to finish.

4:00 PM – conference call

4:30 PM – still on the call, but Alden wakes up.  Eric is home so he takes Alden while I finish my call.

4:45 PM – Off call.  Respond to emails while Eric is entertaining Alden.

5:00 PM – Eric gets on conference call.   Kids entertain themselves while I do some work. 

5:25 PM – Take kids to the grocery store to get a few things for dinner.  Kailey asks for something in every aisle and dances around the store running into everyone. 

6:00 PM – back home and start dinner while Alden screams

6:04 PM – Eric is off call and continues dinner prep while I feed Alden.  Milk supply is back – he’s quite happy about that.

6:11 PM – Alden finishes eating.  Back to making dinner while Eric takes Alden.

6:30 PM – eat dinner and talk about our days.  Alden is happy in his new activity chair for about half of dinner.  Then he starts protesting.  Eric takes him upstairs while I clean up.  Kai continues eating.

7:05 PM – bath for the kids

7:15 PM – sing songs to Alden while Kai finishes her bath

7:35 PM – Kai watches a show while I put Alden to bed

7:55 PM – Alden is asleep.  Kai and Eric read stories.  I pour a glass of wine and get out my computer to finish the @#$ document that I’ve been working on all day. 

9:00 PM - Give up on finalizing document.  Got about 3/4 of the way through.  Try to relax and watch TV.

10:00 PM - Alden wants to eat.  Try to just put him back to sleep but give up and feed him. 

10:30 PM - Go to sleep -- but, get woken up every other hour the rest of the night by either Alden or Abby or Kailey.  Tomorrow is going to be a long day!

Focused

Like his sister before him, Alden is a very focused and intense baby.  He's happy and calm, but he also is very focused and determined.  Today I took him with me to the gym -- I LOVE that our new gym has unlimited child care.  It's worth the price of membership!  And, it's been good for Alden.  He loves being at the daycare for an hour a day.  He likes seeing the other kids and playing with the toys.  He hasn't cried yet while at the daycare (knock on wood). 

Anyway, when I picked him up, the woman that had been watching him said, "I am so fascinated by your baby!  He tried over and over to get his sticker off his shirt.  At first I thought it was an accident, but he did it FOUR times. He knew right where it was and he kept looking at it and trying to get it off.  He's so focused!"  The sticker has his number on it -- and it matches the sticker they give me that has the same number.  Alden apparently wanted to figure out what it was. 

He was the same way about rolling over.  Practicing and practicing until he got it down. 

And, when my mom was here visiting, she bought him an activity seat.  He sits in it while being supported and then a tray snaps around him that has little toys on it.  He practiced and practiced spinning this little ball that has beads inside it.  Whenever he'd succeed in hitting it his eyes would light up and then immediately his brow would furrow in concentration as he set about to do it again. 

I love watching him concentrate on things and perfect these skills.  He's only 4 months, but he's figuring things out!

California Girl

Yesterday morning, it was raining a bit.  Really just a drizzle.  But, the sidewalk was wet and you could see moisture coming out of the sky.  California is in the middle of a historic drought.  It's year 3 of the drought and it's the worst one in 500 years.

 But, still, I had to laugh when Kai said, "I guess we won't have recess today."

"Why?"  I asked

"It's raining!" she exclaimed. Duh, mom, you cannot play outside when there's moisture in the air!

When I was a girl, we played soccer in mud pits during torrential downpours.... but, our California girl, who rarely sees rain, is steeped in the notion that you cannot leave your house when it is raining.  She needs to spend more time in the Pacific Northwest!

4 months

Well... not quite.  Alden is closing in on 4 months (just 6 days away)... but he did have his 4-month check-up today.  He is doing all the things that a 4-month old baby should do:  rolling over (he's been doing that for awhile now), cooing, smiling, laughing, squealing, grasping toys, examining his hands and feet, sleeping for six hours at night. 

The doctor says that Alden shouldn't need to feed at night anymore -- meaning, he should be able to go MORE than six hours, since he is so big.  And, by that I do mean so. big.  Not so much the weight.  He weighed in at 16 pounds, 3 oz.  That's the 71st percentile -- big, but not huge.  But, length-wise, he's got pretty much every other baby beat.  He's 26 3/4 inches.  Almost 27 inches!!  That's just 15 inches shy of Kailey.  Who is SIX.  It's also 1/2 inch shorter than Kailey was at her 1st birthday.  Granted, she was a small one year old.  But, he's a ginormous 4 month old!  The doctor was like, "wow! He is REALLY tall."  Guess that's why he's in 9 - 12 month clothes.  The 6 month clothes he has don't really snap under him anymore.  He also has a 99th percentile head -- 17 1/4 inches.  Big brains!

Anyway, since he is a very healthy size, the doctor said he should be able to go through the entire night without eating.  As in 9 PM - 5 AM.  Which is LONGER than 6 hours (because, remember, 6 hours is considered "sleeping through the night" for babies... even though most of us adults find that going to sleep at 9 PM does not make a 3 AM wake up very appealing).  We talked about the fact that because he sleeps with us and the food is right there, he probably is just eating at 2 or 3 AM out of habit.  I am going to try to start relying just on the pacifier early in the morning and see if he can get back to sleep without eating.  She also said I should be going 3 - 4 hours between feedings during th day.  Alden is a grazer.  He doesn't eat huge amounts when he eats.  He prefers the snack-all-day approach to life.  Which means I feed him about every 2 hours.  So, I'm going to try adjusting to slightly longer stretches between feedings.

But, I'm not starting any of this today because he had his shots today and is feeling crappy.  Poor, baby.  Right now he's sleeping on my chest and moaning a bit in his sleep.  I am a great believer in vaccines.  I am soooo glad we have them.  But, the day of the shots is always kind of hard. 

So, Alden is doing fantastic.  He is such a happy baby.  He only really cries when he is in the car.  Otherwise, he just rolls with his days.  We spent 7 hours at the fair the other day when my mom was in town and he didn't have a single melt down.  He didn't sleep great that night -- too many sights and smells to process!!  But, even then, he wasn't crying.  He was just awake and squirming about.  He is really a mellow kid.  Maybe the happiest baby I've met! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Patience

My way of dealing with stress is to work.  Tackle the tasks and get them done.  I'm good at prioritizing and ticking things off a check list.  I can jump from activity to activity without losing track of what I'm doing.  So, I'm OK in times like these when I have to jump from a conference call, to feeding/soothing a crying baby, to someone knocking at the door because they're here to start the power washing and want a run down on what is needed for the paint job to begin, and then back to feeding/soothing the baby while simultaneously checking and responding to email, to my employee dropping by to have our weekly check-in meeting, returning again with feeding/soothing the baby, back to work and drafting action alerts on our budget play and emailing staffers in the legislature, and then paying bills and juggling the books to deal with the massive amount of money we are spending to get our beloved house ready to sell....

That is my typical day lately.  And those tasks are the easy parts of my day. The hard parts are when I look at the clock and realize it is 3:26 PM and then checked the schedule on the wall and remember that Kai finishes KidzArt at 3:20 and is now waiting to be picked up.  Crap.  Why did I not extend her time in  Adventure Time?  Picking her up in the middle of the day is really making it hard to get all the rest of this stuff done.  As soon as I pick her up, she starts complaining about how she is not in Adventure Time anymore.  It turns out, we both loved her afterschool activities going until 6 PM. 

I had this notion of being on maternity leave and getting to spend extra quality time with Kailey, especially given that it has been a bit of a rough year for her.  I wanted to take her to the library and park after school and just hang out with her a bit more.

But, of course, I also knew that we'd be moving -- and not just moving, but getting this house ready to sell in a very compressed period of time, figuring out her summer schedule, researching schools and neighborhoods in Sacramento, keeping up with my work some (I didn't really anticipate the degree to which I would still be working...unfortunately, the individuals I hired to fill in for me while I'm on leave are not really working out), managing real estate agents, and dealing with the stress caused by a list that has caused this sentence to go on for an entire paragraph!

That is to say, I have no idea why I thought Kailey and I would have any quality time during this period.  And, I don't know what compelled me to cancel most of her after school activities -- so now she is home between 2:15 - 3:30 most of the week.  She still has Spanish School twice a week, but it requires me to go pick her up, entertain her for an hour, take her to Spanish School and then pick her up again 2 hours later.  So -- the Spanish School days are not exactly conducive to getting things done beyond the 2 o'clock hour.

Instead of the extra time together resulting in some quality bonding time, it's just tested my patience.  I'm never done with the list of things I need to get to when the Kailey pick up time rolls around.  That's not her fault.  But, it irritates me and then I get her home and try to go back to what I was doing before, which she isn't very interested in, and everything falls apart.  I start snapping at her and bribing her to stay quiet.  She wants her needs met -- she's hungry, she wants help with homework, she wants to cuddle with Alden or me, or she wants to play a game.... all reasonable requests.  But, they all involve me.  Which means not doing the rest of my calls (why do I set up a conference calls for the late afternoon?) or finishing the bills or scheduling my other meetings.  It's not fair to her, and it makes me feel terrible for alternately snapping at her and ignoring her.

And, to her credit, she's been really good about playing by herself in her room for long periods or doing her homework by herself.  We haven't resorted to endless videos (although, we've certainly watched some).  But, she's six, and she isn't going to just entertain herself endlessly.  And, it's not fair for me to be upset about that.

That, and, none of us really wants to move.  So, we're all dealing with the emotions of a move that takes us from a house we love.  I haven't had the bandwidth to really help her process her own emotions about moving away -- and, I feel terrible about that.

I am really looking forward to getting through June.  Hopefully, by the end of June, we'll have sold this house, be settled in our temporary home in Sacramento, be done with the school year, have a fun summer camp for Kai, be done with a lot of my work (budget activities wrap up mid-June), and be starting to have fun again.  Kai and Alden are both dealing with the chaos much better than their parents -- but, I want to have some real time with both of them this summer, away from all the stress. 

Hopefully we'll get there.  Fingers crossed. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Teachers

This evening, driving home from camp I asked Kai how she was liking Courtyard (which is where she's going to camp this summer, but will also be where she goes for 1st grade this fall).  She told me she loves it.

I asked her if she was excited for 1st grade and she said she was and elaborated, "because Ms. Peters is really nice.  Except when she's mad.  Then she's not nice."

Ms. Peters will be her 1st grade teacher and helps out at camp once a week. 

I repeated back to Kai, "so, Ms. Peters gets mad at the students?"

Kai responded, "of course! All teachers get mad.  When we're not listening or when we're goofing off..."  she said it so matter of factly.  Of course, duh!  Kai wasn't holding it against her.  It was clearly justified. 

Then she continued, "Mr. Thompson would get mad when we weren't even doing anything wrong."

Last year was hard - but Kai seems to have sorted out that being mad isn't the problem.  The problem is teachers that are just generally impatient even when the kids are trying to be good.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a good year this next year.  I'm glad we seem to be off to an OK start. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Siblings


Watching the bond between Kailey and Alden flourish and grow over the last 3 months has been truly amazing.  Of course, it was our sincere hope that our children would enjoy one another.  One of the reasons we wanted two children is because we wanted our kids to have each other.  We wanted a sibling for each of them.  But, the age gap worried me.  Six years is a big gap.  My expectation was that Kai would quickly bore of Alden.  Before he was born, she had very limited exposure to babies.  And, the babies she had experienced were not newborns.  So, I expected that the sluggish days of infancy could result in her losing interest.  And, of course, there was nothing we could expect of Alden. 

I was ready for them to be fairly independent of each other in these early years.  But, hoped that as they grew older they'd develop a bond. 

But, what I see every day is pure love between these two.  Every morning, Kai bursts into our room and the first person she asks after is Alden.  "Is Alden awake?" she'll whisper shout.  He usually isn't, but she cannot help herself.  She hops onto the bed and puts her face right next to his, tickling him under his chin and saying, "ohhh.. I think he is awake.  Well... he's almost awake.  Oh.. see!  He's awake."  I try to suppress my urge to roll my eyes at the notion that he just woke up of his own accord.  For his part, Alden never seems to mind being woken up by Kai.  He sees here and bursts into a big smile and then screeches and flaps his arms in her direction. 

At bedtime, Kai runs into our room (I usually start putting Alden to bed before she goes to bed) and says, "I have to give Alden a kiss and hug goodnight!" 

He's the first person she asks about upon returning home from camp.  And, in the endless car rides that we've endured, she has endured in her task of trying to comfort Alden and stop his howling.  He really hates the car. 

One car ride back from Oakland, Alden was screaming as usual.  Kai kept putting his pacifier in his mouth, which would pacify him for a moment.  But, then he'd spit it out and Kai would grab it and try again.  This went on for many rounds. After about 20 times of trying to soothe him only for him to spit the pacifier back out, Kai burst into tears and yelled, "why won't he take it?  I'm trying to help but I'm SOO TIRED."  She was trying so hard.  She just couldn't take it any more.  I know the feeling!

More recently, in another car ride listening to Alden's screams, I finally said, "Alden!  Calm down!  You're going to be OK."  My voice was a bit sharp as I said it and Kai quickly came to his defense, "Mommy!  He's a baby.  He cannot help himself.  Don't get mad at him."

Kailey is the only person that has managed to get Alden to crack up.  He smiles at everyone . He is  happy to give of his wide mouthed grins to anyone who looks his way.  But, laughter is another story.  He saves his giggles and belly laughs for Kailey alone.  I've tried.  After all, I spend 24 hours a day with Alden.  You'd think I could get him to laugh!  He and I have lengthy "conversations" as he goos and ahhs and coos.  He smiles and looks so happy.  But, no belly laughs.  No matter what I try.  All Kailey has to do is look at him with a certain look and he cracks right up.  This weekend, she was entertaining him with some balloons and we caught it on video! 




This afternoon, I put Alden in his carseat so that we could go get Kai.  I said to him, "do you want to go get Kailey?  Should we go get your sister?"  He did his happy shout in response.  I repeated my question and he repeated his happy shout.  Of course, it's probably entirely coincidental. He doesn't speak and certainly doesn't understand language much at this point.  But, he may have picked up on the word Kailey.  And, his happy shout is his signature greeting for her.  So, maybe not a coincidence after all.

Who knows what the future holds.  But, the connection growing between them in these early days has been lovely. Remarkable, really.